20 Songs About Enlightenment

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Written By Julia Mehalko

Julia is a music journalist with a passion for retro songs. She holds a degree in journalism from University of Nevada.

When you need a little enlightenment, it can be very helpful to turn to music. There are so many songs that deal with opening your mind, finding spirituality, or seeing things from a different perspective.

Below, we’ve listed 20 great songs about enlightenment. These songs range from modern songs about enlightenment to songs about a spiritual awakening and more!

1. “Enlightenment” by Van Morrison

Van Morrison’s 1990 song “Enlightenment” is the first song we’re going to discuss about enlightenment. In this song, Morrison sings about how we all can control our own lives and our own realities. We can do whatever we want with our lives and should live them accordingly.

To help drive this point home, Van Morrison sings the lyrics, “Enlightenment says the world is nothing / Nothing but a dream / Everything’s an illusion and nothing is real”.

2. “Way Back Home” by Prince

In Prince’s 2014 song “Way Back Home”, Prince discusses his own life and past trials. Through discussing his own history, he also details how he sees the world and his own enlightenment. As a result, we learn that he believes everything has happened for a reason.

For example, Prince discusses his upbringing and shows no anger toward his parents — even though he left home very young. He believes that this had to happen for him to eventually find success in his music career.

3. “Baba” by Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette’s 1998 song “Baba”, which appears on her album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, discusses how she views Westerners who have turned Eastern spirituality and enlightenment into a consumerist situation.

Morissette sings about how she feels that many Westerners are creating companies and gaining a lot of profits from Eastern spirituality. As a result, she feels that these gurus and teachers cannot necessarily be trusted. However, she does believe that people can find spirituality — though in themselves. They don’t need to get help from others, or pay to become enlightened.

4. “Monks” by Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean’s 2012 song “Monks” also discusses enlightenment! Interestingly, Frank Ocean compares his concerts and fans to Buddhist monks. He explains that many people find enlightenment through his music, especially when they see him perform live!

5. “Alarm Call” by Björk

Björk released her song “Alarm Call” on her 1997 album Homogenic. This song is all about spiritual enlightenment through music. Björk believes that people can become enlightened or reawaken through music and song alone!

So, in this song, she puts these theories forth and expresses her wish that she could give peace to all humans through her music alone.

6. “Spiritual Walkers” by Stevie Wonder

In Stevie Wonder’s 1985 song “Spiritual Walkers”, he also discusses enlightenment! Stevie Wonder talks about “Spiritual Walkers” in this song, people who walk about and are intent on talking to others about their spirituality.

However, he also mentions that many people run from them, not wanting to hear what they have to say. But the “Spiritual Walkers” persist. Stevie Wonder explains this with the lyrics, “They will walk their lives / Until they shine the light / Of truth into your life”.

7. “Living In the Material World” by George Harrison

George Harrison released his song “Living In the Material World” on his 1973 album of the same name. In this song, Harrison sings about materialism, as well as living in a physical, material world. However, he doesn’t necessarily enjoy living in this material world and is worried that he’ll but cut off from his spiritual self.

Thus, this song is about the push and pull of being spiritual, yet living in a material world. Harrison describes his feelings of spirituality when he sings, “From the spiritual sky / Such sweet memories have I”.

8. “Behind the Ritual” by Van Morrison

Another Van Morrison song! Van Morrison’s 2008 song “Behind the Ritual”, which appears on his album Keep It Simple, discusses spirituality in a personal relationship. Van Morrison discusses how he used to drink wine with someone in the days gone by.

He compares these moments to a ritual. However, he also discusses spirituality, so we can see that he regards these moments of his life, or this person in his life, as something spiritual. It could just be an incredibly strong relationship (or romance), or he could be remembering how he discovered himself back during this time.

He sings, “Behind the ritual / You find the spiritual”.

9. “White” by The Cult

In The Cult’s rock song “White”, the band talks about enlightenment and spirituality. Now, there are many meanings to be found in this song. However, the band discusses how many of us feel as if we’ve lost spirituality in the modern era by telling a story in this song.

They sing about how when barbarians arrive at a civilization with their religion and peace, it becomes a spiritual problem. The band then recognizes that many of us feel as if we don’t have spirituality — and this can become problematic when we’re faced with other cultures that are quite spiritual.

The band sings the lyrics, “We have forgotten our spiritual nature”.

10. “Nirvana” by Donovan

Donovan’s 1996 song “Nirvana” details reaching a pure stage of enlightenment and nirvana. Donovan discusses this opportunity, singing, “All Buddhas in the past, present and future / Thanks to this, Perfect Wisdom / Arrive at full and right, universal enlightenment”.

11. “Enlighten Me” by Grouplove

Grouplove released their song “Enlighten Me” on their 2016 album Big Mess. In this song, the band discusses enlightenment in regard to their personal issues, as well as their personal relationships.

The singer first details a breakup, then discusses his past life and the struggles he’s had. He feels lost and doesn’t quite know what to do. So, he sings, “But I don’t feel my life is real / I’m on the fence with common sense / Won’t you enlighten me? / Won’t you just set me free?”.

12. “Watching the Wheels” by John Lennon

John Lennon’s 1980 song “Watching the Wheels” also talks about enlightenment! Lennon discusses his years-long absence from music in this song. He expresses how so many people thought he was crazy for stepping away from the music industry. As a result, they tried to enlighten him.

Lennon sings the lyrics, “People say I’m lazy dreaming my life away / Well, they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me”. However, Lennon doesn’t need their enlightenment — as he’s found his own. He’s left the game (the music industry) and now feels better than ever.

In many ways, this song can be seen as discovering the better and simpler things in life. It can also be seen as a song about discovering yourself!

13. “Follow” by Breaking Benjamin

Breaking Benjamin released their song “Follow” on their 2004 album We Are Not Alone. In this rock song, the band sings about personal relationships and enlightenment. They sing, “Enlighten me, reveal my fate / Just cut these strings that hold me safe”.

So, the band feels as if they’re sick and tired of waiting around. They want to be enlightened — even if this waking up means they no longer have a safety net, or feel safe.

14. “Insight” by Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode’s 1997 song “Insight” discusses the spirituality of love. Therefore, this song is all about enlightenment in a romantic relationship. The band sings, “Wisdom of ages / Rush over me / Heighten my senses / Enlighten me / Lead me on / Eternally”.

15. “Satisfied” by Van Morrison

In Van Morrison’s 1980 song “Satisfied”, Van Morrison sings about how satisfied he is with his simple life. Through his satisfaction, he does express some worries he has, though he feels mainly positive about everything.

He also says that people can’t find enlightenment or spirituality unless they look within themselves! He gets this point across by singing, “Spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst / But you got to change it / On the inside first / To be satisfied”.

16. “River of Dreams” by Billy Joel

Billy Joel released his song “River of Dreams” on his 1993 album of the same name. He discusses his own spirituality in this song, singing, “I’m not sure about a life after this / God knows I’ve never / Been a spiritual man”.

However, throughout the rest of the song, he also talks about how he continues to go to the “River of Dreams” while he sleeps. He talks about how he hopes to find what he’s looking for as he searches for the truth — and enlightenment!

17. “Breathing Underwater” by Emeli Sandé

In Emeli Sandé’s 2016 pop song “Breathing Underwater”, Sandé opens the song with the lyrics, “I believe in miracles / Cause it’s a miracle I’m here / Guess you could call me spiritual / Cause physical is fear”.

Throughout the rest of the song, she attempts to explain how happy she is with her life. However, this is hard to do — so she compares it to “Breathing Underwater”. She feels she’s accomplished the impossible, and she’s pleased with this and with her life!

18. “Universe Am I” by Donovan

Donovan’s 1996 song “Universe Am I” talks about how great the universe is, in a spiritual way. He expresses how love can make the universe shine, as well as a variety of other situations. Then, at the end of the song, he explains that he has discovered himself and enlightened himself, as he also is a part of the universe!

19. “All I Really Want” by Alanis Morissette

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLHvb9V8Yzs

Alanis Morissette released her song “All I Really Want” on her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill. In this song, Morissette discusses her anger and how she tends to make others around her angry. They don’t understand why she does certain things — and she in turn doesn’t know how to quiet her anger.

However, this song isn’t completely negative, as Morissette also still believes that she will one day find her soulmate. She wants to find someone to have intellectual conversations with — and someone who can help quiet her anger.

Through these explanations, we learn about her quest to be enlightened and at peace. She sings, “And I am fascinated by the spiritual man / I’m humbled by his humble nature”.

20. “Democracy” by Leonard Cohen

Finally, the last song on this list is “Democracy” by Leonard Cohen! This 1992 song follows Cohen as he sings about America’s dark past. Cohen wants people to remember this dark past of American history, as then they can have hope for the future — and have the hope to want to change the country.

Throughout this song, Cohen mentions various aspects of spirituality — in both positive and negative ways. For example, he mentions spiritual people, while also mentioning how corporate interests can turn spiritual to many!